That old TV Entertainment Center
I bet I get one call a week from someone asking me to sell their old TV Entertainment system they bought for several thousand dollars twenty years ago. Came across this in the Washington Post today....sums it up very nicely!
What a waste: The forlorn television armoire
By Petula Dvorak, Thursday, April 21, 10:25 PM
The ultimate grown-up purchase for many of us had to be the television armoire.
Bye-bye, warping pressboard; hello, solid hardwood. So chic to worship that mondo 36-inch RCA, Nintendo 64 and VCR in its own humongous tabernacle.
So very turn of the century.
So very landfill.
Wide flat-screen televisions that sit atop a simple stand or mount on the wall have taken over. And as the last of the fat, analog, cathode-ray tubes croak, along with other aging electronica, America is facing a growing crisis of excess and obsolete machines and cabinetry.
This particular trend in technology and fashion is helping fill landfills with about 3 million tons of e-waste — televisions, old computers, dead phones — and roughly 10 million tons of discarded furniture each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
And despite the greening of cars, makeup, clothing and pet food, the piles of big-ticket trash are growing bigger every year.
On Friday, Earth Day, we can get all proud and smug about our aluminum water bottles and recycling bins, but the increasing size and turnover of homes, sofas, cars, computers and phones make us guilty of much more cataclysmic environmental crimes.
That’s big-picture stuff, but now let’s take it back down to the streets, where you’ll see a pickled oak TV armoire with a “FREE” sign on the curb.
All day, all night, over the weekend, through a rainstorm it stands, free and unwanted. Dogs pee on it. Someone stuffs garbage inside of it.
“Dead,” said Joel Applebaum, owner of a used-furniture store. “TV armoires are dead, dead, dead.”
He gets e-mails every day from folks begging him to take their cherry, oak, pine and mahogany behemoths for his Consignment Furniture Gallery store in Beltsville.
“But I paid thousands for it,” they tell him.
“I’ll pass,” he tells them.
“A few years ago, we did really well with them. But now, there are a million of them on the market, and no one knows what to do with them,” Applebaum told me.
He made a rare exception for an especially posh one presented to him recently, made by the legendary Stickley furniture maker.
It was certainly worth thousands and was “a beautiful, gorgeous piece,” he said.
It sat on his showroom floor. And sat. And sat.
“I finally got $195 for it,” Applebaum lamented.
Ha! You don’t need his help, you think. Go it alone on Craigslist, right?
Just type in “TV armoire” (or “armiore,” or “arimore,” depending on when you dropped out of school, I guess), and you’ll see sad tales of forsaken armoires, along with the regrets of their owners.
For example: “Gorgeous. Cherry TV amoire in very good condition, original cost $1200, now $100 obo.”
Sure, they start out that high and hear nothing.
Then, they’ll try again, this time throwing in that fat, old TV as a sly bonus, thus saving the dump fee, as few charities will take analog TVs.
“FREE TV INCLUDED! Toshiba 27 inch TV,” said the owner of a solid-oak gem.
Speaking of charities, how about you just give the armoire away and write it off your taxes if it’s not moving online?
Not so fast.
Some places, such as Wider Circle in Silver Spring, won’t accept them. Most of its clients live in small apartments and need things a little more basic than a factory-distressed, rustic pine entertainment center.
Our household joined the flat-screen nation last year, when the visiting father-in-law was frustrated by our primitive television and decided to gift us with a new, wide, flat one.
We gave away the old one, but the teak, cagelike Balinese armoire was another matter.
We dragged it out onto the front porch the night before a multifamily yard sale last summer.
I was nervous someone would steal it overnight and wasn’t sure whether to leave the lights on or off. I kept waking up to check whether it was still there.
All night and, as it turned out, all day long, folks passed by it.
At the end of the sale, a guy gave me $35 for it, saying he could use it as a birdcage. He said he’d come by later and pick it up.
Almost a year later, it’s still there.
My new plan is to move it out back and make it a toy and tool shed. Reincarnation is the TV armoire’s last hope.
“They were dead before, and now they’re dead again,” said the guy at Miss Pixie’s Furnishings and Whatnot in the District, which sold one this past year, a whimsical, country-quirky one. “Some people use them for linens.”
Jim Colville of Dulles Office Furniture said he has one in the back room that has been sitting for ages. “No one wants it,” he said.
But at home, he uses one to house his immense library of photo albums.
In fact, entire businesses have grown from retooling these dinosaurs into something more useful.
The Refinishing Touch Armoire Conversion in Georgia is one of scores of businesses that specialize in helping the folks stuck with thousands of these monsters — hotels — with an “On-Site Armoire Modification program.”
They helped Marriotts, Fairmonts and others chop the old cabinets into a sleeker platform for the new televisions.
At home, folks have found ways to convert them into bars, aquariums, office centers, play kitchens or even — now this is innovative — into clothing holders.
Can’t wait to see what we’ll be doing with all these flat screens in 10 years.
Straight answers from thirty years in the business.
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